Facilitating Freedom of Expression

- Giri Balasubramaniam

Educating and guiding students on the freedom of expression is a dimension that most teachers encounter in the modern world.

 
It is time for us to celebrate another Independence Day. While one year transcends into another we sometimes do not pause to capture the change that surrounds us. As a quizmaster who interacts with students across the nation, I see the role of the teacher become even more critical especially in the arena of freedom of expression.
 
As a nation, we have come a long way in the last 15 years. In the process our youngsters are way more confident, aware and articulate than we were as students. They are also a lot more ambitious and global in their aspirations. All of this reflects in the way they talk, conduct themselves and express their views. In a socially wired world, everything they say and do gets captured, recorded and circulated. Today, companies look up the social media pages of prospective employees before taking them on board. Soon, colleges will start doing that for their admissions. The freedom of expression that our Independence provides us needs to be understood by our youngsters. Educating and guiding students on the freedom of expression is a dimension that most teachers encounter in the modern world.
 
The school is no longer the dominant environment for social interaction of teenagers. It has been supplemented by technology enabled platforms that connect student opinions and expressions from across the globe at the click of a mouse.
 
Freedom of expression requires maturity, responsibility and tolerance. It should not be mistaken for an easy medium to express angst, or to pose like an activist. International children’s rights are commonly analysed with regard to the 4 P’s – protection, prevention, provision and participation. This is often done in relation to the Rights contained in the United Nations Convention, and it is important for us educators and teachers to be sensitive to these changing environs in which we facilitate teenagers.
 
The role of the teacher is slowing but surely becoming wider from guide and facilitator, to mentor, to success enabler to even filling in the void that parents leave by not being able to find adequate time for their children. It is in this context that we need to view the role of the teacher to channelise expression in the right form and manner.
 
The freedom to express is a powerful tool. It is not available easily in several countries of the world. As custodians of the largest democracy, we teachers, educators and schools should view this power that independence provides us with great responsibility and imbibe the same in our generations to follow.
 
Happy Independence Day.

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